There’s a lot to be said for injecting a bit of funk into one of Shakespeare’s many classics, particularly when a new twist comes along that hasn’t been seen before.
I’m not sure this production quite knows what it is
Bob’s premise is that Shakespeare’s lost play has been rediscovered; it follows the same basic narrative as the fate that befalls the Macbeths, with a few cheeky winks to some of William’s other great tragedies along the way. Whilst the introductory character of Evangeline, a larger-than-life luvvie who has discovered this new script, was played with pantomime skill by George Prové, this play-within-a-play device ultimately has zero impact on the plot of the production. It would have been nice to see development of this meta-narrative throughout the show, as more than a vague excuse for being able to twist several plot lines together.
At times the staging of certain scenes feels slightly misjudged: two speeches which take place on a podium, for example, happen so far downstage that it is impossible to see any more than the back of the character speaking unless you are situated on one of six seats directly in front of the stage. However the scenes that do address the larger sections of the audience are some of the more polished and entertaining set pieces, with a recurring news report gag proving particularly effective at keeping the plot in some sort of order.
I’m not sure this production quite knows what it is: part Macbeth parody, part homage to Shakespeare and nothing particularly original in the way of adaptation. Gin and Tonic Productions are undoubtedly a talented and creative ensemble, and individual roles were approached with boundless energy and enthusiasm – it’s unfortunate that this led to a rushed speed of delivery, which ultimately affects the clarity of a narrative that was already pretty shaky to begin with.